Today’s Prompt:Hawthorne—unwritten plot. Visitor from tomb—stranger at some publick concourse followed at midnight to graveyard where he descends into the earth.
The Resulting Story:Trial of the Fisk Family
So, we have another visitation from the deceased. See our earlier works for more clarification of the various froms the living dead have taken over the years. This particular form of the living dead appears to be something more like a revenant or vampire than a daugr or ghoul, possessing all of his faculties. The invocation of Hawthorne positions our tale a bit more firmly, however. Hawthorne for his part was fond of writing of the earliest days of the Americas, particularly Puritan days and the early revolution.
The matters then that the undead would attend in public would have been regional imporance no doubt. Hawthorne’s themes of ancestral guilt, retribution, and surreal imagery means he and Lovecraft mesh fairly easily in ideas. So we must infuse them into this important matter that has a member of the dead in attendance.
A family matter or one with relation to public land seems best. A court case perhaps? For the disposal of a will or the distribution of deadened line. The visitor’s investment then is rooted to some degree. We know from Norse Sagas that the dead care often about how their homesteads are distributed. The out come of this redistribution is key to the story, as are the survivors of the dead men. His family members, no doubt, in the same manner as Ripp Van Winkles, are found ages after and bare a resemblance to him in phyiscal and behavioral ways. The survivors are observed by the literal ghost of the past, haunting even the discoruse of the public years after.
The tension thus lies partially in the decision, the judgement of the survivors rather than simply with the dead man. Hm…I’d place then some sin and terrible action on our dead man. A highwayman perhaps, a traitor in the Revolution, a butcher of indians, a corrupt judge, the possible sins are manifold.
For judgement to now be coming onto this New England survivors, however, the sins must to some degree have continued. Rarely does the law punish simply the actions of the old and dead. More often it punishes those that appear to be continuing the trend.
I will depart from Hawthorne’s own works then, for a better grasp of possibility. We might go to other rural centered horror. The families in Lovecraft’s own fiction, such as the Dunwhich’s witchcraft, give the possibility of dark, dangerous magics and gods intermixed with men. The mixing of blood is a horror that has little edge and meaning in the modern world. But this might serve as an example of the ancestral sin: consider, then, that our guilty parties are not guilty by our standards in this age. Or at the very least, their guilt is not as severe as we today may see it. Our sympathy may then lie with the ghost and his kindred, persecuted by a system that has lasted generations.
I will refrain from specifying what this sort of systematic abusive horror may reflect in the real world. I assume one can draw their own conclusion.
With that in mind, we might expand on the ending and beginning of the tale. If our court is prosecuting the relations between an anecstor and another, then there are a number of inhumanities that might exist at the trial. We might make the other contributing lineage non-human, to improve upon the horror. I say this, because it allows scenes that might be incredulous if it were merely mixed heritage of mankind. We cannot have disected bodies of lost cousins brought on stage, skulls of disintered aunts, and other bodily evidence as easily if the other side is also human.
It also incorporates a new layer of disturbing: the pseudo-scientific. The racial analog to this sort of story is, sadly, apparent. And the ‘race science’ that often accompanied it is sometimes swept under the rug or forgotten. There is an effort to say all racists are uneducated country buffoons. This is, unfortunately, not true. And our horror story could highlight that. From academic to simplton, the community rejects and persecutes the family, before the mournful eyes of their ancestor.
The ancestor’s departure into the underworld, I believe, might be marked with some forboding cricumstance as well. It should bare as little semblance to a descent to hell as possible. I wouldn’t go as far as an ascent into heaven, but perhaps something to shake the fate of the Puritans. Something stranger, an underworld less…amicable to their beliefs. I lean Oceanic, given our source author, but something as ambiguous as green light or crackling noise. Maybe something like static or strange flashes of light. Something that is unclear at its origin or destination. Something then, that is at once peaceful and unsettling.
I think this lays the ground work for our story. We will conjure the spectre of the story next week, in order to render judgement on his own. Perhaps we will fear what we find. Perhaps it will fear us.
If you’d like to support the Society, receive more stories or research, or are feeling generous, please check out our Patreon here.